On Thursday, the Pakistani terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed killed at least 40 Indian security officers in India’s northern Jammu and Kashmir province. Confronting terrorism and supporting an important democratic partner, the United States should respond positively to India’s request for an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting. As an Indian government statement put it: “We strongly reiterate our appeal to all members of the international community to support the proposal to list terrorists, including [JeM] Chief Masood Azhar, as a designated terrorist under the 1267 Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council …”
India and the world have good reason to want Azhar on that list. A longtime Islamist fanatic known both for his orchestration of brutal attacks and for his cultivation of global Sunni fanaticism; Azhar is a terrorist’s terrorist. But while much of the world recognizes as much, China and Pakistan do not. That matters, because as a veto-power member of the U.N. Security Council, China has blocked efforts to add Azhar to the U.N.’s terrorism list.
The Trump administration should force China to do so again. While China’s defense of Azhar is blatantly immoral, it reflects Xi Jinping’s transactional approach to international relations. Xi happily keeps more than a million of his own moderate-Muslim citizens in concentration camps while simultaneously defending an Islamic terrorist. That may seem contradictory, but for Xi, it’s an easy choice: Pakistan is China’s trade and military access point to the Indian Ocean, so Xi will do anything to keep Islamabad on side. If that means defending a terrorist, Xi’s okay with it.
We shouldn’t be. The U.S. should stand firmly alongside our Indian partner and force a U.N. Security Council vote on Azhar. If China decides it’s now willing to vote for the moral option, good. If not, let the world see Xi’s true nature.